Guy and Stella Hernandez, of Hilltop Coffee Shop in Portland, stand outside their business on Friday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

A Munjoy Hill cafe that has carved a place for itself in the community, serving up “strong coffee and good food” for more than a decade, is turning off the percolator and closing its doors.

Hilltop Coffee Shop will shutter next month, owners Stella and Guy Hernandez announced on social media Thursday.

“It’s been some ride … Not all of it planned, much of it enjoyable (some, not so much), but all of it worth it,” they wrote. “Our lease runs out at the end of the year and we have decided that it is time to see what new adventures await us.” 

The coffee shop is steps from the Portland Observatory and the top of Munjoy Hill, a historic, tight-knit neighborhood on Portland’s peninsula. It is unclear what might be going into the space.


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The Hernandezes live just a few blocks away, so it’s bittersweet for them to leave what’s become almost a second home.

“Our business has always been an extension of who we are. We don’t walk away at the end of the night and drive to a different town,” Stella said.


The couple have been a part of the Hill’s food and drink scene for 16 years, having owned and operated two other successful eateries: Bar Lola, which opened in 2006 and closed in 2012, and Lolita, which opened in 2013 and closed in 2019. 

They bought Hilltop in 2010. At the time, the coffee shop had already long been in operation at 90 Congress St. The Hernandezes later swapped locations with Lolita at 100 Congress St. 

In late 2019, the couple revamped Hilltop with a new look and an almost entirely new menu, ready to move from a morning coffee shop that also sold pastries to an all-day cafe with made-to-order brunch and lunch options.

But then the pandemic hit, and the plan went on hold.

While it was a difficult three years, Hilltop’s steady stream of business has resumed. But at the same time, the Hernandezes said, there was some uncertainty about whether they’d be able to stay at 100 Congress St. The building was for sale, and there was concern that the buyer wasn’t going to renew their lease.

The pandemic made many people reevaluate decisions about their lives and careers, Guy said, and an “existential crisis” about where you’re going to call home does something similar.


The Hernandezes decided they weren’t the ones to try the cafe idea they’d previously envisioned. They told their five employees about their decision a month ago before announcing the closure on Thursday.

A final day hasn’t been set but will likely be in mid-December.


“We’re really looking forward to enjoying the next few weeks doing what we do well,” Guy said. “Then we’ll be catching our breath before the holidays and starting 2023 saying ‘now what?’”

They’re not in a rush to figure that out. Their child has two years left in high school, so they want to grab onto that time. The couple also are primary caregivers for a parent who needs a lot of assistance.

After 16 years in the demanding hospitality business, taking a break makes them feel almost giddy, Stella said. 


Both Hernandezes started out as architects. So no matter what they do next, Guy said, “It’s not the first time we’ve taken what looked from the outside to be hard left turns,” he said. 

As serial entrepreneurs, they’re “never say never” people, Stella said, but they’re not actively looking for another venture in the hospitality industry.

Guy and Stella Hernandez inside their Munjoy Hill coffee shop on Friday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Disappointed community members, customers and other businesses took to social media to lament the neighborhood’s loss and wish the couple well.

Oh no, our hearts are broken! You guys have been such a bright spot in our neighborhood and a reason we get up many dark mornings,” customer Nancy Tsai wrote. “Please know you have played a big beautiful role in our lives here.”

Another, Anna Davies, was sorry to hear of the cafe’s closing.

“This has been a wonderful, neighborhood coffee shop where I could always expect a friendly face when served my coffee/iced tea and delicious toast of the day,” she wrote.


Katie Made Bakery, a Congress Street confectionary offering cakes, pies, cookies and bars, said the coffee shop will be missed. 

“The hill will not be the same without you! Thanks for being such great neighbors,” the bake shop wrote. 

Belleville, a North Street bakery focusing on pizza and pastries, said the Hernandezes should feel proud of what they’ve built, nurtured and withstood throughout the years. 

“Gosh, this is just so beautiful and emotional to read, as we can see ourselves in your experience,” Belleville commented. “So proud to share the hill with you and best wishes for what’s next.”

Guy Hernandez said the reaction from the community has been an encouraging reminder that they have been contributing members of the neighborhood and not just a coffee shop. 

“When you see people before their first cup of coffee, it builds a bond,” Stella said. 

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